July 30, 2012

Seeds of Yesterday by V.C. Andrews

Title: Seeds of Yesterday
Author: V.C. Andrews

Format: PB
Pages: 408
Genre: Horror

Publisher: Pocket, 1987
ISBN-13:   978-0671648152  
Series: Dollangagers, Book 4

Favorite Quote:  There's a garden in the sky, waiting there for me.

Synopsis:  Cathy and Chris, haunted by the tragedies and sins of the past, return at last to Foxworth Hall, where they were hidden long ago. Despite every endeavour, they find that they are prisoners of a past they cannot escape and the past comes back to prey upon them once more.

Review:  This is *very nearly* as good as the original story.  I really enjoyed it, even though I hated how it ended.  I will not be reading the last of the books in this series because Garden of Shadows is a prequel and I'm just not in the mood to go way back in time. 

Rating:  8.5 / 10

If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

Title: If There Be Thorns
Author: V.C. Andrews

Format: PB
Pages: 874
Genre: Horror

Publisher: Pocket, 1981
ISBN-13:   978-0671648145  
Series: Dollangagers, Book 3

Favorite Quote:  But one day when we're both older, wiser, and I have found the right words, I'll tell him something Malcolm wrote in his book -- there has to be darkness if there is to be light.

Synopsis:  Chris and Cathy made such a loving home for fourteen-year-old Jory -- so handsome, so gentle. And for Bart,who had such a dazzling imagination for a nine year old. — Then the lights came on in the house next door. Soon the Old Lady in Black was there, watching them, guarded by her strange old butler. Soon she had Bart over for cookies and ice cream and asked him to call her "Grandmother".

And soon Bart's transformation began...

Fed by the hint of terrible things about his mother and father... leading him into shocking acts of violence.

Now while this little boy trembles on the edge of madness, his anguished parents await the climax to a horror that flowered in an attic long ago, a horror whose thorns are still wet with blood, still tipped with fire.

Review:  Still a great book, not as good as the first one, but a little better than the second one I think.

Rating:  8/10

July 26, 2012

Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews

Title: Petals on the Wind
Author: V.C. Andrews

Format: PB
Pages: 438
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Pocket, 1980
ISBN-13:   978-0671648138
Series: Dollangagers, Book 2

Favorite Quote:  I would never lock away my two sons, even if Jory did remember one day that Chris was not his stepfather but his uncle.

Synopsis:  For Carrie, Chris and Cathy the attic was a dark horror that would not leave their minds. — Of course mother had to pretend they didn't exist and grandmother was convinced they had the devil in them. — But that wasn't their fault. Was it? — Cathy knew what to do. She knew it was time to show her mother and grandmother that the pain and terror of the attic could not be forgotten...Show them. Show them -- once and for all.

Review:  I didn't like this one quite as much as the last, although it was still quite good.  

Rating:  7 / 10

July 18, 2012

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Title: Flowers in the Attic
Author: V.C. Andrews

Format: PB
Pages: 411
Genre: Horror

Publisher: Pocket, 2003
ISBN-13:  978-0743467162 

Series: Dollangagers, Book 1

Favorite Quotes:  "Eleven:  you will not allow wicked, sinful, or lusting thoughts to dwell in your minds.  You will keep your thoughts clean, pure, and away from wicked subjects that will corrupt you morally."

"Arsenic is white, Cathy, white.  When mixed with powdered sugar, you cannot taste its bitterness."

Synopsis:  Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden. — Blond, beautiful, innocent little secrets, struggling to stay alive. — Flowers In the Attic — The four Dollanganger children had such perfect lives -- a beautiful mother, a doting father, a lovely home. Then Daddy was killed in a car accident, and Momma could no longer support the family. So she began writing letters to her parents, her millionaire parents, whom the children had never heard of before.

Momma tells the children all about their rich grandparents, and how Chris and Cathy and the twins will live like princes and princesses in their grandparents' fancy mansion. The children are only too delighted by the prospect. But there are a few things that Momma hasn't told them.

She hasn't told them that their grandmother considers them "devil's spawn" who should never have been born. She hasn't told them that she has to hide them from their grandfather if she wants to inherit his fortune. She hasn't told them that they are to be locked away in an abandoned wing of the house with only the dark, airless attic to play in. But, Momma promises, it's only for a few days....

Then the days stretch into months, and the months into years. Desperately isolated, terrified of their grandmother, and increasingly convinced that their mother no longer cares about them, Chris and Cathy become all things to the twins and to each other. They cling to their love as their only hope, their only strength -- a love that is almost stronger than death.

Review:  Wow, this was a heartbreaking, scary, terrible and wonderful book.  I really liked it.  It wasn't easy to read, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so glad I did.  I'm starting the 2nd book today.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

July 13, 2012

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Title: A Murderous Procession
Author: Ariana Franklin
Format: PB
Pages: 374
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Berkley, 2011
ISBN-13:  978-0425238868 

Series: Mistress of the Art of Death, Book 4

Favorite Quote:  "D'ye ken that?  By all that's holy, it's the peeps.  The peeps.  I've come home."

Synopsis:  In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.

Review:  I'm so sad.  This is the last book.  Maybe there will be a new one some day.  I really, really enjoyed this series.

Rating:  9 / 10

July 12, 2012

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

Title: Grave Goods
Author: Ariana Franklin
Format: PB
Pages: 529
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Berkley, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-0425232330 

Series: Mistress of the Art of Death, Book 3

Favorite Quotes:  Lord, how I hate Avalon.  To beautiful, too terrible.  Once and future kings -- you can keep them.

"Excalibur."  In his reverence, Roetger began to sob.  "What else?  Where else?  Are we not in Avalon?"

Synopsis:  Set in 1176, Franklin's excellent third Mistress of the Art of Death novel (after The Serpent's Tale) finds Adelia Aguilar, a qualified doctor from the School of Medicine in Salerno, in the holy town of Glastonbury, where Henry II has sent her to inspect two sets of bones rumored to be those of Arthur and Guinevere. — Henry is hoping that an unequivocally dead Arthur will discourage the rebellious Welsh. The bones have been uncovered by the few monks, under the saintly Abbot Sigward, who remain after a terrible and mysterious fire devastated the town and abbey. Adelia's party includes her loyal Arabian attendant, Mansur, whose willingness to play the role of doctor allows Adelia to be his translator and practice the profession she loves; and Gyltha, Mansur's lover and the caretaker of Adelia's small daughter, Allie.

Review:  It just gets better and better.  This story is about trying to find whether a particular set of bones might belong to the long-dead King Arthur.  I loved it!

Rating:  10 / 10

July 9, 2012

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin

Title: The Serpent's Tale
Author: Ariana Franklin

Format: PB
Pages: 382
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Berkley, 2009
ISBN-13:  978-0425225745 
Series: Mistress of the Art of Death, Book 2

Favorite Quote:  Oh, God, a stupid man - the most dangerous animal of them all.

Synopsis:  When King Henry II’s mistress is found poisoned, suspicion falls on his estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The king orders Adelia Aguilar, expert in the science of death, to investigate—and hopefully stave off civil war. A reluctant Adelia finds herself once again in the company of Rowley Picot, the new Bishop of St. Albans and her baby's father. Their discoveries into the crime are shocking -- and omens of greater danger to come.

Review:  These books really are an awful lot of fun.  Mystery and intrigue set in a time that I have always adored reading about.  Plenty of humor and excitement and I still couldn't figure out whodunit until the very ending.  I'm already starting the next one and cannot wait.  I believe I liked this one even more than the last.

Rating:  9 / 10

July 6, 2012

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

Title:  Mistress of the Art of Death
Author:  Ariana Franklin
Format: PB
Pages: 400
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Berkley, 2008
ISBN-13:  978-0425219256 
Series: Mistress of the Art of Death, Book 1

Favorite Quote:  Henry Plantagenet, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, hoisted himself up on the refectory table, letting his legs dangle, and looked around.

Synopsis:  A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry I is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . .

Review:  And another new author I simply love.  I've already begun book two.  While there is some expected things, what I never expected was the ending, when the real killer was revealed.  There are some parts that are a little too obvious and sweet, but all in all this is a fine novel.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

July 2, 2012

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Title:  Sing You Home
Author:  Jodi Picoult
Format: PB
Pages: 466
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Washington Square, 2011
ISBN-13:  9781-439102732 
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I'm not," I say, straight-faced.  "I mean, if you look at sheer probability - the fact that all these things are happening to you means it's much more likely I'm safe.  I'm positively charmed, in fact.  You're good luck for me."

Synopsis:  Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen. — Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant.

For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.

In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people -- even those she loves and trusts most -- don’t want that to happen.

Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.

Review:  When I need a good book, guaranteed to be a can't-put-it-down, enthralling, fast read, I nearly always choose this author.  She hasn't let me down yet and certainly not with this story.  It wasn't what I expected, but then I didn't really know what to expect.  I really did love it though.

Rating:  9.5 / 10
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